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Your Guide to Post-Operative Care and Medical Negligence

Your Guide to Post-Operative Care and Medical Negligence

While many people believe that medical malpractice only happens within the confines of a medical facility, the truth is that it can happen after hours, too. After your discharge from the hospital, you should be resting and healing at home. Following aftercare instructions is critical during this sensitive time, particularly after a major surgery. And the truth is, you can still suffer injuries due to medical negligence during your post-operative care.

These injuries can have grave consequences. Bacterial infections can delay healing, bedsores can require further surgeries that disable or disfigure you, and blood clots can cause a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism. If you believe you suffered from medical negligence during post-operative care, read on to learn more. Or, if you are a New York resident, contact our team at Silberstein, Awad, and Miklos for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys.

Injuries from Negligent Post-Operative Care

After you undergo an invasive medical procedure, you are vulnerable. You may require nursing, follow-up care, and medication as you recover from your surgery.

People Who Cause Post-Operative Injuries

You rely on many healthcare providers for your post-operative care. Medical malpractice happens when a healthcare provider fails to provide the same level of care as a reasonably prudent medical professional would in the same situation. A nurse who fails to change your dressings can commit medical malpractice if you get an infection.

Some examples of providers who can commit professional negligence while providing post-operative care include:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses and nursing assistants

Some workers who can commit ordinary negligence in a post-operative setting include:

  • Janitors
  • Cooks and food handlers
  • Hospital staff and administrators

You can also suffer injuries due to ordinary negligence while you are recovering. For example, you can slip and fall due to a spill on the hospital floor.

Reasons for Post-Operative Injuries

Post-operative injuries might have natural causes, such as the expected side effects of drugs or your body’s reaction to your injuries or treatment. Sometimes, your injuries result from medical errors such as:

Diagnostic Errors

Doctors, dentists, nurses, and other medical professionals might fail to identify conditions you develop after treatment. For example, a diagnosis error happens when a dentist fails to spot the signs of an infected incision.

Treatment Errors

Treatment errors happen when someone provides substandard medical treatment. This sometimes results from inadequate training, procedures, or supervision. So nurses commit a treatment error if they do not turn you, and you develop bedsores.

Errors can also result from unskilled treatment. A phlebotomist could commit malpractice by damaging a vein during a blood draw.

Treatment errors can have no other cause than carelessness. A pharmacist might misread a prescription and provide the wrong medication to you.

Communication Errors

Communication errors usually take two forms. The first happens when a doctor fails to discuss the side effects of treatment beforehand. As a result, you unexpectedly suffer these side effects afterward. The second happens when a doctor or other medical provider fails to instruct you about your post-operative care, and you suffer an injury as a result.

Examples of Injuries During Post-Operative Care

Some injuries you might experience after an operation include:


Infection is one of the most common types of medical malpractice. Infections happen when microorganisms enter your body through an open wound. The microorganisms multiply rapidly and compete with your cells for resources. Viruses hijack your cells and use them to produce copies of themselves. Bacteria release toxins to kill your cells and eliminate them as competitors.

Your body responds to this attack by swelling and increasing your body temperature. Between the effects of the microorganisms and your body’s reaction, you become very sick. If left untreated, an infection can cause your death by destroying tissue or causing septic shock.


Bedsores happen when the pressure on your body causes the tissue to break down. Pressure cuts off blood flow to the area, particularly the skin. The tissue dies and becomes infected. The sores can develop in a few hours while you rest in bed. Nurses prevent bedsores by rotating your body regularly.

Blood Clots

You are particularly susceptible to blood clots during post-operative recovery for a few reasons:

  • Your body releases clotting factors after experiencing the trauma of surgery
  • Blood clots are more likely to form when you are inactive
  • Some medications cause blood clots to form

Blood clots can cause severe injury or death if they block blood flow to your heart, lungs, or brain.

Why You May Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Not all medical errors will support a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice requires an unreasonable error. An adverse outcome, by itself, is not malpractice. Likewise, malpractice does not arise from a reasonable or good faith mistake.

An unreasonable error happens when a medical provider commits an act or omission that no reasonable medical provider would have committed. This means you must compare the care you received to the care you should have received from a reasonably prudent healthcare worker.

Post-operative injuries can have serious consequences. If you are a New York resident and would like to learn whether your injuries will support a medical malpractice claim, contact our team at Silberstein, Awad, & Miklos for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys.